LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Two Lufkin teens are serving in a non-profit organization to help shape a healthier future by encouraging a drug-free lifestyle. They're a part of the statewide leadership program Texans Standing Tall.
The two members are serving among 18 other youth leadership council members who said they're passionate about preventing substance abuse.
"When you get that e-mail, it's kind of exciting because you realize you are part of something so much bigger than yourself," said Katy Turner, 19.
Turner believes too many people think drugs will never affect their lives, including parents.
"I care because I've seen my friends give up their lives to substances, and I don't understand it," Turner said. "I really don't, and I want to stop anybody else from doing it."
Through a rigorous application process, Turner along with Lufkin High School student Amy Tang were chosen to serve a one-year term on the council for Texans Standing Tall.
"Just being an advocate and just trying really hard to stay true to my roots and know the consequences and educate others to help them," Tang said.
The duo aims to take a stand to reverse the trends.
"Alcohol is the most abused drugs by youth right now, so that's why we're really focusing on that," Turner said. "Alcohol is the most easily assessable to youth. I really think that's the number one reason. They can get it at parties from friends, parents, I mean they can get it from the store."
The non-profit reports that in Texas, the average age student reports drinking their first alcoholic beverage at the mere age of 12. That is the same age as an average seventh grader. As of 2016, more than half of Texas middle and high school students said they've consumed alcohol before even graduating.
To solve this problem, Turner and Tang said they are working with other members statewide to pass several ordinances including one which holds adults liable for underage drinking on their property for providing alcohol to minors.
"We're trying to get in Texas anywhere we can, but it takes a lot of work because we have to get law enforcement involved, and then you can get an ordinance put into place, but then you really have to focus on the enforcement of that ordinance," Turner said.
From a statewide pool of qualified candidates, five members represent Angelina County, and one is from San Augustine.